Community Fridges Are Facing Vandalism and Regulatory Challenges
Community fridges—refrigerators parked on city sidewalks by volunteers who stock them with food that hungry people may take as they need—are facing a raft of challenges from crime and vandalism. If that weren’t enough, some community fridges are also facing the ax from overzealous regulators.
As I explained in a column last year, a “community fridge” refers to a working refrigerator that volunteers plug in on a city street and stock (and restock) with food that anyone can take and eat free of charge. Community fridges operate like microscopic, hyperlocal, decentralized food banks. They are, I opined, “exactly the sort of community-building and local self-reliance that America needs right now.”
But right now, crime appears increasingly to be hampering the operation and spread of community fridges. In July, a community fridge in DeKalb County, Georgia, was vandalized and its contents strewn across the street. That particular fridge, which had been vandalized previously, is operated by a mutual-aid organization that’s reduced the fridges it operates from six to two since it began operating in 2020. A month earlier, in Philadelphia, a community fridge and its contents were stolen right off the street—presumably to be sold for scrap.
But those examples of theft and vandalism pale in comparison to what’s happened to a couple who regularly stock a community fridge that’s located near their home in Portland, Oregon.
“Jeana and Mark Menger sleep with their car keys near their bedside, and they have a plan,” The Oregonian reported in July. “Should a man who has frequented the community refrigerator full of free food on their Portland street make good on his vow to burn down their bungalow, they will climb out their bedroom window and drive off to safety.” The paper notes residents who live near the community fridge also face other, perhaps lesser negative externalities, including human waste, rodents, and vandalism.
These are just some of the latest threats face
Article from Reason.com